The Dim-Post

May 24, 2016

Start as you mean to go on

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 11:15 am

The GCSB has a new director:

His family tease him by calling him Johnny English. He has a 3000-strong record collection – not classical, but some “out there” 1980s indie rock.

Andrew Hampton is also a government fix-it man – though he prefers to call himself a “continuous improvement” specialist. And he happens to be the new face of the Government Communications Security Bureau, the country’s foreign intelligence agency.

Hampton took up the job a month ago, and has been spending that time getting his feet under the desk, and also getting up to speed with the cloak and dagger world of terrorism, cyber threats and, yes, “Five Eyes”, the shadowy five country intelligence sharing arrangement which has been at the centre of international controversy in recent years.

Given that controversy, it’s not surprising Hampton wanted to reassure himself that, no, the GCSB “don’t actively monitor the emails and internet use of the general population”, the allegation that has been central to much of the debate about the role of our intelligence agencies since the “Snowden leaks” forced their secret activities out into the open.

Snowden has never made the allegation that intelligence agencies ‘actively monitor the emails and internet use of the general population’. He’s claimed that they harvest it or have back-door access to it all so they can spy on whoever they target at will. Intelligence agencies find it very convenient to pretend that a different allegation was made so they can indigently deny it, because that’s preferable to admitting that yeah, actually they can spy on us any time they want with little accountability or oversight. Also amusing how he leads with terrorism, even though nothing that ever comes to light about what these agencies get up to ever has anything to do with terrorism.

5 Comments »

  1. Danyl, the low-level routing protocols that create the Internet are based on trust, not security. For most of the Internet’s history, the majority of email and web traffic has been in clear text. Anyone with access to a router can see the traffic flowing through it. Anywhere between the source and the target. Your email is a postcard not a registered letter.

    However over the last few years the bigger players have started to encrypt email between themselves. See Google’s transparency report’s section on safe email https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/saferemail/

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 24, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

  2. Hes already learned the jargon by which the surveillance of the population is done. As we know they have played games on who’s ‘behalf’ they have spied previously. Just like Whaleoil denied paying Rachinger to hack the Standard ‘on his own behalf’ in-spite of admitting the first part of that statement in court.
    Theres games around ‘accessing data’ and more games covering ‘cyber security’ functions.

    Our most recent security threat were the mythical ‘jihadi brides’ and before that Ahmed Zaoui who was last seen running a kebab shop in Palmerston North. These could all be charcaters for the next Disney movie.

    Comment by duker — May 24, 2016 @ 1:40 pm

  3. Whoa! Dude! Chill out, I think you’re misreading the new guys probable low level of technical understanding and overlaying a little bit if tinfoil hatism. Just sayin’…

    Comment by Johnno — May 24, 2016 @ 1:41 pm

  4. …the low-level routing protocols that create the Internet are based on trust, not security.

    This is true. But the expectation \ implication has existed that the communication is private.
    Otherwise, we would have made do with bulletin boards and no provider would have bothered with account passwords.

    For most of the Internet’s history, the majority of email and web traffic has been in clear text.

    Again true, if you were using a service hosted by major providers.
    However, ‘web of trust’ PGP or public key MIME standards have been routinely enforced by decent providers since the mid-late 90s and in internet years, that’s basically forever.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 24, 2016 @ 3:25 pm

  5. @Gregor W any expectation of privacy is essentially meaningless in a global multi-jurisdiction system when not codified in enforceable law. Also, your point about BBSes is a non-sequitur, they are fundamentally private which is why they were so well utilised by hate groups.

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 25, 2016 @ 11:41 am


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